Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
 

What I bought, read, watched, or otherwise consumed – October 2023

“I think we’ve taken a step toward something truly magnificent. But humankind almost never forgives true greatness.” (Orson Scott Card, from Speaker for the Dead)

COMICS

DC’s Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun (sigh) by a bunch of different creators. $9.99, 78 pgs, DC.

As you recall, I’m a fan of anthologies, especially when DC and Marvel do them, because they have the wherewithal to get good creators and the creators are usually allowed a bit of free rein* over the characters (not too much, of course, but they don’t have to worry too much about continuity if they don’t want to). This is their Halloween one, and it’s pretty good. Here’s the round-up:

1. Ellen Tremeti and Tyler Crook have a Rene Montoya/Question story in which something weird is happening at Fashion Week, and Montoya has to investigate! I don’t love the villains in this because it’s such a weird pairing, but Tremeti and DC ignore a new development with one of the villains (I don’t want to give it away!), which is what I mean about ignoring continuity. It’s a pretty good story (even with the villains), and Crook’s art is good.

2. Hal Jordan and Etrigan must work together to stop an interdimensional demon convict? Sure, why not? Kenny Porter and Riley Rossmo are the writer and artist, and it’s pretty fun.

3. Michael Conrad and Christopher Mitten give us a story about Maxine, Animal Man’s kid, on Halloween. Why does Maxine have animal-like powers? Buddy’s powers aren’t genetic, so he can’t pass them on, right? Oh well. She has powers, uses them to do things. It’s not bad.

4. Nightwing and Jason Todd fight people who have been transformed into monsters in this story, which feels like it’s leading into something in Dick’s title. Christopher Sean and Laneya are the writers, and while Dexter Soy has gotten better since I first saw his work in Captain Marvel, he’s still not a great artist, so this is the weakest story in the book both from an art perspective and a story perspective.

5. Greg Burnham and Javier Rodríguez do a story of Superman in a haunted house. It’s pretty clever and while Rodriguez doesn’t get to cut loose too much, it still looks nice.

6. Robotman confronts the ghosts of all the Doom Patrol-adjacent people who’ve died over the years, and he wonders how to live with them. It’s by Alex Galer and Fábio Veras, and it’s fine, but nothing special. They do a deep dive into the many incarnations of DP and all the corpses, which is both fascinating and depressing.

7. Hans Rodionoff and Adam Goldberg (writers) and Danny Earls (artist) give us Lobo and Crush, as Lobo needs help coming up with a good Halloween costume. It’s a funny story, as they try to get him to go as Wolverine without, you know, mentioning him, and Crush’s eventual idea is fun, but only if you’re willing to accept the metatextual part of it. For such a short story, why not?

8. John Arcudi and Shawn McManus (good to see his art again!) have a nice Man-Bat story. I don’t want to give anything else away, but it’s nice.

Overall, a solid effort. Usually there’s at least one clunker in these, and even the Nightwing/Jason Todd story isn’t that, just a bit too much a teaser for a longer story. So I guess this is a win for DC!

* I know spelling and grammar have gone by the wayside recently and we’re back in the free-for-all, Shakespearean world when it didn’t matter how you spelled anything, and while I don’t mind grammar mistakes as much as I used to, spelling errors still bug me, because words have different meanings based on their spelling. “Rein/Reign” is one of those, as “free rein” means something a bit different than “free reign,” although I suppose you could argue that when you use it, giving a horse a free rein is kind of the same as allowing someone to rule over something with no restrictions. Seeing someone write “free reign” just bugs me. I really hate the “discreet/discrete” thing, too. Nobody used to use “discrete,” probably because they didn’t know it was an actual word. Then, someone decided to start using “discrete” – correctly, I might add – and then others realized it was an actual word, but then they started using it when they mean “discreet.” THEY MEAN TWO DIFFERENT THINGS, WRITERS AND EDITORS!!!!! You can’t just substitute! Most of time these days, people actually mean “discreet,” but they spell it the other way. It really bugs me. Also, the past tense of “slay” is “slew,” not “slayed.” Yes, I’m annoyed a lot by language. Why do you ask?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Just another Wednesday night in Gotham City!

G.O.D.S. #1 by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Valerio Schiti (artist), Marte Gracia (colorist), Travis Lanham (letterer), and Tom Brevoort (editor). $9.99, 58 pgs, Marvel.

I didn’t know if this was a mini-series or an ongoing or even a one-shot, so I picked it up to see what all the hype was about. It turns out it’s a mini-series, but this is still a nice big package (yes, yes, TWSS) that tells a pretty coherent story. Does that make it good? Well …

I’ve been disappointed in Hickman-at-Marvel almost since Hickman-at-Marvel became a thing, and this doesn’t really change my mind too much. According to the fawning press, it’s “revolutionary,” but this first issue is really anything but that. It’s a “Fight the Big Evil Thing” that superhero comics do ad nauseum, and Hickman doesn’t do anything particularly interesting with it. It’s supposed to set up this whole new “secret” universe within the Marvel U., but that’s pretty boring, and Hickman already did this with S.H.I.E.L.D. (what is it with him and periods?), the first issue of which was far better than this. Has Marvel forgotten about that? Has Hickman? Anyway, there are weird forces manipulating the Marvel U., much like there were in S.H.I.E.L.D. and in Hickman’s Fantastic Four (if I remember correctly, which I might not be because that run was hot garbage) and probably Hickman’s Avengers run and sort-of in his X-Men stuff (I suppose we should be thankful Hickman hasn’t ruined Spider-Man – the fourth pillar of the Marvel U. – yet!). There’s a new character, Wyn, who’s just a hotter Dr. Strange, and as Original Recipe Stephen S. appears in this very comic, I’m surprised Hickman and Schiti didn’t do the “Spider-Men pointing at each other” meme as a panel at some point (although maybe they did and Marvel doesn’t have a sense of humor about it). I mean, why create a character who’s basically Dr. Strange with a soupçon of John Constantine thrown in when you already have Dr. Strange? I mean, I get you’re doing something ostensibly new so you need a new character, but why make him Dr. Strange Lite? I mean, you could try to make him different, right? Anyway, Not-Strange and his ex-ish-wife are on opposite sides of the Great Power Struggle, so it’s Romeo and Juliet, too (Hickman steals from the greats!), and there’s Bad Things Happening and Not-Strange needs to stop them. Sigh. It’s boring, honestly, and not even Schiti’s superb art can make it less boring (I first saw Schiti’s work on Journey Into Mystery, I think, and since then he’s been up and down, and I’m not sure why, but here’s he definitely up). When I bought this, I thought it might be a candidate for my “Old Man Yells At Cloud” series, but I can’t get too exercised about it, because it’s not rage-inducing, just mediocre. It feels more pointless than a lot of comics, and that’s saying something. Maybe subsequent issues will be more “revolutionary,” but this is … not.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh noes! Hot Not-Strange is in trouble!

Harrower by Justin Jordan (writer), Brahm Revel (artist), Pat Brosseau (letterer), and Jon Moison (editor). $17.99, 90 pgs, Boom! Studios.

This is a bit of a disappointing book, mainly because there are no surprises. It’s entertaining enough, like most of Jordan’s books, but also like Jordan’s books, it never quite becomes a great comic. A group of teenagers in a small, bucolic town mock their town’s legendary boogeyman, the Harrower, but of course he’s real, and he’s coming for you!!!! I don’t want to give too much away, because there is a mystery behind the Harrower, but I could give it away, because it’s easy enough to figure it all out. What’s frustrating about it is that when the plot becomes clear, we think that maybe Jordan will do something interesting with it, but it plays out pretty much exactly the way you think it’s going to. Part of it is that the book is only four issues long, and a lot of it is all about the Harrower killing people, so by the time what’s going on comes out, there’s not a lot of time left for Jordan to do much with the characters’ knowledge of what’s going on, so Jordan goes with the path of least resistance. It’s annoying. Revel’s rough art works very well for the story, and his Harrower design is pretty cool. It’s a nice-looking comic, and it’s fun to read. It’s just not great. Oh well.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

She’s trying to get ahead in the world!

Hellcat: Devil on My Shoulder by Christopher Cantwell (writer), Alex Lins (artist), Ruairí Coleman (artist), KJ Díaz (colorist), Tríona Farrell (colorist), Ariana Maher (letterer), Joe Caramagna (letterer), Jennifer Grünwald (collection editor). $19.99, 139 pgs, Marvel.

I like Patsy Walker as a character, but Marvel doesn’t seem to know what to do with her. They keep giving writers short series with her, but they’re usually kind of messy, to the point where nothing much happens even though the writers try to “fix” her or change her status quo, which is not a status quo because it’s always changing. It’s weird. It doesn’t help that she’s been around since 1944 and her early appearances were in teen romance comics, something that Marvel has not really dealt with all that well, or that she married Daimon Hellstrom, which led to a gripping story by Warren Ellis in which she committed suicide but didn’t do the character any favors when Marvel resurrected her. Cantwell throws a lot of this into a blender and gives us a mish-mash in which Patsy is haunted by her mother, fights Blackheart, gets advised by Hellstrom – who’s trapped inside a stuffed rabbit, because why not – and is accused of a murder she didn’t commit. It doesn’t really cohere, and the low-ish stakes (I mean, yes, there’s a murder, but it’s not anyone terribly important) and the actual reason for the murder don’t really land, making this feel less “important” in the grand scheme of things. There’s a lot of Sleepwalker (!!!), which isn’t a bad thing, but like She-Hulk below, it does start to feel like a Sleepwalker book like that feels like a Jack of Hearts book, and it’s bizarre. It seems like Cantwell can’t define Patsy any other way than by the men she hangs out with, which wouldn’t be the worst thing to do, but he doesn’t do anything all that interesting with it. He hints around about Patsy’s childhood and how it messed her up – apparently the adventures of Patsy in the 1940s are now stories told by her mom, but maybe they really happened too? – but doesn’t get into it too much. Cantwell enjoys writing psychologically weird stories, and Patsy’s fucked-up life – more fucked-up than many superheroes, even though many superheroes have fucked-up lives – would seem a good place for him, especially when you throw in Sleepwalker’s weird status quo, but Cantwell either doesn’t want to go too weird or Marvel won’t let him, so this becomes … a mish-mash, as I noted. Years ago, Steve Englehart and Norm Breyfogle did a Hellcat mini-series (which is briefly referenced visually in this), and while it’s not great, Englehart wasn’t afraid to get weird and Breyfogle was channeling his inner Ditko, and Marvel in 2000 seemed like a more adventurous place than it does now. I would be nice to have that Marvel back, but I doubt it will reappear any time soon. Sigh.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Grrrrrlllllll!

“Fuck This Place” volume 2 by Kyle Starks (writer), Artyom Topilin (artist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), Pat Brosseau (letterer), and Alex Antone (editor). $14.99, 102 pgs, Image/Skybound.

Starks is a decent enough writer, but he can’t quite pull the ending of his story off, which is too bad. It’s almost as if he’s too ambitious with this, as he takes a weird horror story and turns it into … a sci-fi horror story, which certainly can work (I know we all love Event Horizon!) but which just feels too disjointed here. It’s probably because, despite the fact that Starks tries to spin this as being a complete 10-issue story, it feels rushed, and I wonder if he did really want to play it out a bit but the sales just weren’t there (he says in the back that it’s the “best-selling book” of his career, but that doesn’t mean it sold well). He throws a LOT at us in this volume, including time travel, and there are a few panels that seem to imply he wanted to go in different directions but he just didn’t have the time. Everything gets wrapped up a bit too quickly, as well (not necessarily easily, just quickly), which is weird. It’s a decent horror story (with a splash of science fiction), but it feels incomplete. Oh well. Such is, as they say, life.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Peek-a-boo!

In Hell We Fight! #1-5 by John Layman (writer/letterer), Jok (artist/colorist), and Mey (colorist). $15.95, 114 pgs, Image.

I already reviewed the first four issues of this, so I’ll just say that Layman wraps things up in his inimitable style, with some things coming out of left field a bit (in a good way, as they’re logical, just unexpected) and Layman setting up what appears to be the next arc … only to have it resolved on the very next page. Layman does things like that so well – you think he’s going one way, but he changes it up marvelously – and it usually works. It’s clear he did it so that there wouldn’t be any loose ends – I mean, there’s the driving force of the entire series that isn’t resolved, but otherwise, he wraps things up pretty well – in case he isn’t able to finish this series (15 issues are planned), which, unfortunately, is more common than not. I hope the trade sells well, and I hope Layman can make it through 15 issues. His track record since Chew has been less than stellar, which is too bad, because the comics he’s done since then have been quite good, they just haven’t captured the imagination of the readership like Chew did. We shall see about this one!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

What a good dad!

Local Man volume 1: Heartland by Tim Seeley (writer), Tony Fleecs (artist), Brad Simpson (colorist), and Felipe Sobreiro (colorist). $16.99, 149 pgs, Image.

Local Man is pretty darned good, which isn’t too surprising, as Seeley is a pretty good writer (he’s not always on, but he usually is) and Fleecs is a pretty good artist. Unfortunately, because this is an ongoing (or at least longer than the issues we get here), Seeley ends on a cliffhanger … which follows Pop Culture Rule #1. If you are unfamiliar with Pop Culture Rule #1, which I haven’t mentioned in a while, well … it would spoil the end of this, and I don’t want to do that any more than I already have for those of you who know what Pop Culture Rule #1 is. Sigh. Still, it’s a good comic – a dude returns to his home town in Wisconsin after leaving a superhero group under less than ideal circumstances, and he finds that nobody really wants him around least of all his parents. He’s not allowed to do anything superheroic, but when his “arch-enemy” (who’s just another sad dude like he is) is brutally killed in jail one night, Jack feels the need to figure out what’s going on. It all ties into the superhero team he left behind, of course, but how?

It’s a good, solid plot, but what makes it work is Seeley’s commitment to making Jack a bit pathetic (not too pathetic, you understand, but a bit) and making it clear that despite that, he’s still a hero and he eagerly wants to do the right thing even if everyone hates him. Seeley also ties this into early Image history – the flashbacks to Jack’s days with the team are hilarious (well, to me) pastiches of those early Image WildC.A.T.s and Cyberforce comics that we mock these days but loved back in the day. Fleecs changes his style, too, so it looks more Jim Lee-ey and Marc Silvestri-ey than usual, and it works quite well. Seeley also gets into the corporate nature of these things – of course they would slap Jack with an injunction about superheroing, and they would have the resources to police him, too. It’s cynical, of course, but it helps set up the fact that Jack is The Real Hero – maybe not a perfect dude, but someone who just wants to help, and sometimes that’s all that’s needed. So while this is a funny comic in many ways (simply because of the “real-world” stuff applied to superheroes), it’s also more sentimental than you might think, as Seeley (who must have grown up in “flyover country” because he likes to set his comics there) gives us people who have been damaged by life but are still trying to be good. It’s well done.

And then there’s the ending. I will reserve judgment until the next volume, but it’s still annoying. We shall see!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck, indeed, Crossjack

A Nice House on the Lake by James Tynion IV (writer), ·lvaro Martínez Bueno (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Andworld Design (letterer), and Reza Lokman (collection editor). $49.99, 316 pgs, DC.

The thing that bothers me about James Tynion is that he’s so obviously the beneficiary of patronage but no one talks about it (or maybe they do, and I just missed it). Patronage is huge in the creative arts world, and people act like it doesn’t exist or it’s just coincidental and that the protégé would have succeeded anyway because they’re so talented, but that’s bullshit. Tynion obviously got his start because he was close to Scott Snyder, and he kept getting chances because of that, as well. His early comics work is mediocre, but he kept getting chances, and he’s gotten much better. It’s frustrating reading about or watching documentaries about artists (like I do below), because it’s rare that patronage is presented as patronage – it’s always that the artist happened to meet a famous person who, it’s implied, maybe helped them out a little, but it’s never really brought up that the only reason the protégé gets anywhere is because of the patron. Would Tynion have become a good (not great) comics writer without Scott Snyder’s assistance? Possibly, but we’ll never know. I just get vexed because there are plenty of good artists out there who never get discovered because they don’t have someone more famous in their corner. Don’t assume the people who get the gigs are the absolute best. They might be very good, but they’re also usually well connected.

Does this have anything to do with The Nice House on the Lake? Well, no, but it’s one of Tynion’s most high-profile gigs yet, as he really didn’t put much of an imprimatur on Batman even though he wrote the book for a while (to be fair, these days very few people are able to do that with Batman, because DC doesn’t let them), and it might be the best thing by him I’ve read so far. It’s an interesting conceit that … well, I don’t really want to spoil it if you don’t know what’s going on, because it is fun to find out, but basically, a dude who has a bunch of friends from high school, college, and his later life invites ten of them to a “nice house on the lake” in Wisconsin for a reunion, as he says he misses the lot of them and wants to reconnect. Once they get there, things get very, very weird. The art is wonderful, the vibe is bizarre and disturbing, the back-and-forth in time works quite well, the mystery is mysterious … and it’s still, like most Tynion books, a bit disappointing. It’s a twelve-issue story that is very much structured like a standalone story … but ends on a cliffhanger. On the one hand, that’s cool, if the creative team is able to return (we can’t discount Bellaire’s superb colors). On the other hand, it feels like dirty pool. I suppose we were never promised a complete story, but it certainly feels that way as we move through the story, until we get very close to the end and realize we’re not going to find out why the narrators of each chapter (each chapter is introduced by a different character) are doing what they’re doing (because what they’re doing is odd). So … it’s frustrating. Perhaps excellent, if Tynion can stick the landing and not drag it out too long (this doesn’t feel sustainable; perhaps another twelve issues, but it’s hard to imagine it going longer than that). We shall see.

I could probably rant a bit more about patronage, but you get the gist. I don’t want to lose to many readers because I’m being grumpy!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Testify, brother!

Phantom Road volume 1 by Jeff Lemire (writer), Gabriel Walta (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Steve Wands (letterer), and Greg Lockard (editor). $14.99, 109 pgs, Image.

Lemire is pretty good at this kind of story, and Walta is a good artist, so I figured I’d like Phantom Road, and what do you know? I do! Lemire gives us a trucker, Dom, who stops to help Birdie, a young woman who’s been in a car crash, one night. On the road is a strange artifact, which Dom touches (in I Hate This Place, above, someone also touches something they probably shouldn’t have – this is why I would never be in a horror movie, because I’m just not that curious about doing foolish things) and which transports him and Birdie someplace else – a kind of desolate wasteland that still has truck stops, so that’s handy – where a weird older dude tells them they now have to take the object where it needs to go or they’ll never get back to their lives. Plus, there are weird zombie-like creatures wandering the wasteland, which don’t seem to be too evil as long as you don’t get in their way. Dom and Birdie try to escape their fate, but – surprise! – they can’t, so they’re off. And then we get the FBI agent who’s tracking the smashed-up bodies of the zombies (who do enter our world occasionally, it seems), and of course it’s part of something far, far greater than she or our intrepid couriers can comprehend!!!!

It’s a good premise, and Lemire is good enough to make it work. He gives us a bit of intriguing backstory about all three of our main characters, including some things that we know but the other characters don’t, so it will be interesting to see that unfold. He doles out clues carefully and slowly, and the “big reveal” at the end is interesting. Walta is good for this kind of story – he has a grounded, no-frills style, his rough lines and judicious hatching fit the blue-collar, flyover country vibe of the story, and his murderous bear mascot character (oh yes) fits in well without looking too, too ridiculous (I mean, it’s still a murderous bear mascot …). This is just a good, solid, horror/mystery book. I’m in!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It’s an important piece of information to have!

She-Hulk volume 3: Girl Can’t Help It by Rainbow Rowell (writer), Andrés Genolet (artist), Joe Quinones (artist), Dee Cunniffe (colorist), Bryan Valenza (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer), and Jennifer Grünwald (collection editor). $17.99, 110 pgs, Marvel.

Rowell remembers that the book is called “She-Hulk” and not “Jack of Hearts” and gives us a story in which Jen is the main character … except it’s about a new, rogue-ish villain she kind of digs, and Jack of Hearts ends up saving the day anyway. It’s very weird. I do like the new thief – “the Scoundrel” – and Rowell does dig into Jen’s psychology a bit, but this is still a lot about how Jack is dealing with his new status quo and what that means for his relationship with Jen, and it does feel like Jen, despite dominating the “page time,” is just there to help Jack out on his journey. It’s bizarre. I’m not entirely sure why Rowell did this the way she did, but such is life. This is the end of this series, and Rowell is launching a new She-Hulk series with a new #1 – it used to be that Marvel would launch a new series when the writer changed, but they’re not even doing that anymore, just launching a new series with the same writer! – but I think I’ll skip it. Rowell had 15 issues to sell me on her version of She-Hulk, and it’s not really that interesting. It’s fine, but nothing special.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It’s blocking the view of his Hoboken apartment!

Soul Plumber by Marcus Parks (writer), Henry Zebrowski (writer), John McCrea (artist), PJ Holden (artist), Mike Spicer (colorist), Becca Carey (letterer), and Katie Kubert (collection editor). $16.99, 130 pgs, DC.

I tend not to like comics (or any stories anywhere) that feel a bit like they were dreamed up while the creators were drunk and/or high and thought they would be great, because you rarely come up with great ideas when you’re drunk and/or high. This sort-of feels like one of those stories, but Parks and Zebrowski commit so hard to the bit that it works, and McCrea and Holden are good artists who are perfect for a demented story like this, so it also works. We get Edgar, a disgraced seminary student now working at a convenience store but still convinced the Lord is a Good Dude, and his yearning to do something to make the world a better place. He falls in with a religious huckster who’s selling “spirit plungers” – contraptions that supposedly suck the demons out of possessed people, so there’s no need for an exorcist. Edgar can’t afford one (and, of course, they don’t work anyway), but he cobbles one together and somehow sucks a “demon” out of a friend of his … but the demon isn’t exactly what he expects, and it turns out the machines do work, but also not in the way the users expect. I don’t want to give too much away, but Edgar and his weird friends have to save the world, naturally, and a lot of shit hits the fan in the process.

It’s a fun book, as Parks and Zebrowski manage to skewer religion without really mocking Edgar’s or anyone else’s real beliefs, which is not easy to do. Edgar is very weird, of course, but his faith is sincere, and the writers do a good job showing how that helps him through things. They give us a lot of bizarre characters, many of whom are con artists, and it’s fun to follow along as Edgar and his friend, Elk (he’s not the one with the “demon” inside him), head out to see what’s going on in the world and encounter these horrible, horrible people who scam everyone they can find. They usually get their comeuppance, of course, because if there’s one thing writers love, it’s taking the hoity-toity of the world down several pegs, and with McCrea and Holden drawing it, you can be sure it’s gory and hilarious. At its core, however, this is an interesting look at faith and what it can do for us and how it can spiral out of control. It’s certainly not deep, but you can see depth from here.

Anyway, a lot of shit goes down, and it’s darkly hilarious and very non-stop. If that sounds like your thing, give this a whirl!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Fuck, indeed, your arms

Steel Siege by Andrew Kafoury (writer), Justin Zimmerman (writer), Eric Vargas (artist), Russell Brown (artist), Silvia Signorini (colorist), Venetia Charles (colorist), Jeremy Colwell (colorist), and Tom Orzechowski (letterer). $9.99, 96 pgs, Battle Quest Comics.

As I’ve noted, I like Andrew Kafoury (although I don’t know him that well, but still) and I want his publishing concern to do well, so I will keep buying Battle Quest Comics until it becomes untenable (if they blow up and publish dozens of titles, in other words, and I can’t afford them all). They have a pretty good track record so far – the comics aren’t great, but they are enjoyable, and Steel Siege is another like that. It takes place on a planet torn apart by war, and one side is besieging the last city of the other side. Into this fray lands a woman who might be able to stop the war, and she gets the help of an embittered old soldier who’s been living in the wasteland but who doesn’t want to see the besieging side win. He helps her get to the city. That’s it, that’s all – there’s nothing complicated about it, it’s a winning formula, and Kafoury does a nice job with it. He gives us very little about each character, but enough to know that they’re good guys, and the art is solid and unspectacular, although Vargas does nice work with the weird, mechanical designs of the battle suits that the soldiers wear. I don’t know what to say – it’s a good, solid, science fiction adventure thriller, and it looks nice. I’m glad Kafoury has been able to get these comics out into the world, and I want to support him!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

A+ kill; no notes

Two Graves by Genevieve Valentine (writer), Ming Doyle (artist), Annie Wu (artist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), Aditya Bidikar (letterer), and Jennifer M. Smith (editor). $12.99, 168 pgs, Image.

I dislike this title, as it implies that the book will be about revenge – you know, the old “two graves” proverb – but it’s not, so the title feels misleading. I mean, that’s my problem, but I wonder if other people were upset when they read this, thinking it would be a revenge story and getting a weird romance instead. Beats me. I hate titling things, and I find it difficult, so I’m not going to criticize this title too much, but “two graves” has a very specific resonance in English idiom, so I’m curious why Valentine chose it.

Anyway, a young woman takes a road trip with Death. Other Deaths (maybe?) don’t like this and try – vaguely and ineffectually – to stop it, but basically, it’s a road trip/budding romance story, as our hero, Emilia, wants to go from the West Coast to the Atlantic to dump her mother’s ashes, and Death agrees to go with her. Why? We don’t know. Emilia is special, but Valentine never gets into the reason why she’s special. By the end, we understand how she’s special, but not why. It’s a bit of a weakness in the story that we never find out. The gradual romance between Emilia and Death is well done, as Death, naturally, thinks it’s a bad idea and Emilia doesn’t quite realize that she’s falling in love until she’s confronted with it, and the three other Deaths are there to act as a Greek chorus, telling us and the characters why it’s a bad idea and providing the violence in the story (as otherwise there’d be none), and it’s a decent enough meditative story, but the blank space in the middle keeps it from being really compelling. Doyle and Wu, who a decade ago seemed to be rising stars in the industry but then faded a bit, do nice work, especially with Death, whose face is a weird veil of smoke. Wu does a slightly better job with it, as Doyle’s looks too much like a mask, where Wu’s is an actual twisting veil, but both of them still do a good job making Death a bit off-kilter. It’s a nice-looking book. Generally, it’s an interesting comic, and its one weakness doesn’t wreck it, just keeps it from being really great.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That’s never something you want to ask someone

TELEVISION

Black Snow season 1 (AMC). This is an Australian import that’s pretty keen – a dude in Brisbane who works cold cases gets an alert about a 25-year-old murder in a small town in Queensland that might have some new leads. The town opened a time capsule from 1994 and the murder victim wrote a note implying that people she knew wanted to kill her, rather than the random drifter the police believed it to be. Cold Case Guy – Travis Fimmel – heads off, and discovers so many secrets, naturally, and many reasons for someone to want to kill the girl – played by Talijah Blackman-Corowa. The show shifts nicely between 1994 and 2019, as we see the events leading up to Isabel’s death and, in the present, how her death affected so many people, and it’s a very interesting murder mystery. The show delves into the culture of the South Sea Islanders living in Queensland – many characters are from Vanuatu, and a good deal of the plot hinges on how they were brought over to work and are treated very, very poorly – and it’s impressive that the showrunners allow it to get complicated, as it’s not a case of “white people bad, brown people good” – these are people who have to make hard choices, some good and some bad, and they intermingle with other cultures as well, absorbing some of it and making it harder to hate the people who don’t look like them. It also makes the racism more casual and therefore more insidious, which is well done. The actors are terrific – Fimmel’s cop has a tragedy in his past, and Fimmel plays Cormack as a bundle of nerves, rarely sitting still for long, doing some odd things that help him think, and using his piercing eyes to terrific effect – and Blackman-Corowa is excellent as well – she’s 21, but she remembers how it is to be a teen and not feel like you fit in anywhere, and she portrays that well, which is impressive given that this is her first gig. Jemmason Power as her grown-up sister is very good as well, helping Fimmel but not trusting him, protecting her daughter from life even as her daughter thinks she should be more like her dead aunt, who of course can do no wrong (because she’s dead). It’s a gorgeous show, too, as we really get a feel for rural Queensland and what it’s like living there. This could easily be a one-and-done show, but of course there’s a tease for a second season! I mean, there’s a lot of cold cases out there!

Heels season 2 (Starz). This has been canceled, which is too bad, because it’s a good show, and showrunner Mike O’Malley hopes they can get it onto a new network, as it ended on a pretty significant cliffhanger (I hate when shows do this, but to be fair, O’Malley and the others on the show didn’t know it was getting canceled until long after it wrapped). I guess the strike had an effect (as Stephen Amell awkwardly talked about), because no one could promote the show, and that probably helped kill it. It’s too bad, as the second season is better than the first, which was pretty good already. It picks up right after the first season ended and involves Amell’s ill-fated punch to O’Malley’s nose in season 1, which O’Malley is using as a pretext to either sue Amell’s small wrestling league into oblivion or to team up and make O’Malley and his league look good, which Amell, proud as ever, doesn’t really want to do. Every character gets their moments, and every actor does an excellent job – Kelli Berglund was the break-out star of season 1, and she continues to kill it, but Alexander Ludwig as Amell’s younger brother does excellent work as he tries to find meaning in his life; Mary McCormack is great as she becomes more and more embittered with the path her life has taken; Chris Bauer continues to be the weirdest philosopher-wrestler in the world; and Allen Maldanado and Robby Ramos also do very solid work. It’s a nice, complicated show about entertainment, fantasy, sexism, classism, religion, and politics, and it’s very funny quite often (the announcers at the matches rule), and there’s some really good wrestling sequences. I’m not a wrestling guy, so I don’t want to watch it all the time, but in small doses like we get on this show, it’s very entertaining. I hope it finds a new home – that would be nice.

Professor T season 2 (PBS). Another solid season of this show, as our hero, Jasper Tempest (Ben Miller), continues helping the Cambridge police with their cases while deciding to deal with his own trauma, which has led to his OCD, it seems. When he was a kid, he came across his father’s suicide before anyone else, and he’s been dealing – or not dealing – with the trauma of that ever since, and now he’s in therapy, trying to uncover some stuff, and his mother very much does not want that, which leads me to believe she killed his father because he was abusive. But that’s not a thing right now – presumably it will be a thing next season – and otherwise, we get some stuff with the cops in Cambridge, and the cases are, generally, fine. Miller is weird and interesting, and the rest of the cast works nicely, too. I don’t know – it’s a cop show, and foreign cop shows (like this and the one below) are always kind of interesting, simply because of the slight differences in law enforcement in non-United States countries. It’s just a nice show.

Van der Valk season 3 (PBS). The grumpy Marc Warren, the title character, is back, and like Professor T, this is a foreign show, and Amsterdam (and Holland in general) looks very keen. Django Chan-Reeves and Azan Ahmed join the cast, and they do a nice job, but Warren and Maimie McCoy remain the dominant cast members, and they have a good relationship. There’s a interesting case that ties back into Van der Valk’s past, and there’s a case involving a demonic summoning, and it’s just a solid cop show. There’s not much else to say!

Becoming Frida Kahlo (PBS). I love watching or reading about artists, because artists are full of shit, and I am here for it. Kahlo is a good artist, sure, but she and Diego Rivera were so full of shit it cracked me up. Like James Tynion above, we have Kahlo getting a break in the art world because she was boinking Rivera, and while some people would say that her talent would have won out, how the hell do they know? She and Rivera were kind of perfect for each other – she was attracted to older artists, and the cynic in me thinks it’s because she knew they could help her career (I mean, have you seen Diego Rivera? because she couldn’t have been too attracted to his physical appearance), while Rivera was 20 years older than she was, and we know why older men marry women so much younger than they are. Rivera had affairs with anything with a vagina, it seems, including Kahlo’s sister, and she in turn started having affairs with anyone with a pulse – men or women, she didn’t discriminate! Rivera and Kahlo were Communists, but Rivera took money from the Rockefellers and Gerald Ford to piant giant murals for them and then tried sneaking Lenin into one of them, which was just stupid. He hated Trotsky, which cracks me up – “Hey, I’m a good Commie, but that Leon sucks!” Kahlo, for all her relative independence, painted self-portraits because that’s what people were willing to buy, so she wanted the cash, too. I don’t care if artists want to make money – of course they do! – but I do love when either they or those talking about them rave about their artistic integrity. Kahlo can’t speak for herself, but the commentators really talk about how fiercely independent she was. Which, I guess, but she couldn’t rid herself of her fuck machine husband, because she was so in lerve with him. Yeah, ok, Frida. We see a lot of her art, though, and it’s quite good. The part of the show about how she expressed herself through her art – she was in a horrible bus accident when she was 18, which probably contributed to her miscarriage later in life – is very well done, and you can feel her pain through her art. That part is fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that Kahlo was full of shit. Not as much as Rivera, of course, but still.

**********

Here are the “classic” reprints I got this month:


Dark Horse did Creepy volume 2, Weird Fantasy volume 2, and Eerie volume 1. The glorious Faust: Love of the Damned has gotten a hardcover from Black Mask Studios, and it is glorious. Fantagraphics has The John Severin Westerns Featuring American Eagle, which looks pretty sweet. There’s another Terry and the Pirates volume (#6) from Clover Press, so that’s nice (it’s too big for me to scan, though). And Marvel has Moon Knight Epic Collection volume 7 (the middle Marc Spector: Moon Knight series, just before S.Platt! came on board) and the second half of Jason Aaron’s Thor, which I don’t know if it counts, but it’s been collected before, so I’m counting it!

Here’s the money I spent in October!

4 October: $190.85
11 October: $25.14
18 October: $94.55
25 October: $549.30 (!!!!)

Money spent in October: $859.84 (October 2022: $860.22; October 2021: $662.60)
YTD: $5779.10 (through October 2022: $8992.21; through October 2021: $6859.07)

Let’s take a look at the publishers and types:

Abrams ComicArts: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Abstract Studios: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Battle Quest Comics: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Black Mask Studios: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Boom! Studios: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Dark Horse: 5 (3 “classic” reprints, 2 graphic novels)
DC: 3 (1 single issue, 2 trade paperbacks)
Del Rey: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Fantagraphics: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Image: 7 (2 graphic novels, 3 single issues, 4 trade paperbacks)
Marvel: 5 (2 “classic” reprints, 1 single issue, 2 trade paperbacks)
Titan: 2 (2 graphic novels)

7 “classic” reprints (42)
8 graphic novels (53)
0 manga volumes (9)
5 single issues (78)
11 trade paperbacks (125)

Publishers so far this year!

Ablaze: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Abrams ComicArts: 2 (2 graphic novels)
AfterShock: 11 (2 single issues, 9 trade paperbacks)
Ahoy Comics: 2 (2 trade paperbacks)
Archaia: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Asylum Press: 1 (1 single issue)
AWA: 5 (5 trade paperbacks)
Battle Quest Comics: 3 (3 trade paperbacks)
Beacon Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Black Caravan: 2 (2 single issues)
Black Mask Studios: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Boom! Studios: 13 (13 trade paperbacks)
Clover Press: 3 (2 “classic” reprint, 1 graphic novel)
Conundrum Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Dark Horse: 42 (11 “classic” reprints, 10 graphic novels, 11 single issues, 10 trade paperbacks)
DC: 26 (3 “classic” reprints, 15 single issues, 8 trade paperbacks)
Death Ray Graphics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Del Rey: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Drawn & Quarterly: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Dstlry: 1 (1 single issue)
Dynamite: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Epicenter Comics: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Fairsquare Comics: 2 (1 single issue, 1 trade paperback)
Fantagraphics: 8 (2 “classic” reprints, 2 graphic novels, 4 single issues)
First Second Books: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Floating World Comics: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Greenwillow Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
HarperCollins: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Helvetiq: 1 (1 graphic novel)
High School Heroes Productions: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Humanoids: 1 (1 graphic novel)
IDW: 2 (2 trade paperbacks)
Image: 66 (1 “classic” reprint, 4 graphic novels, 28 single issues, 35 trade paperbacks)
Invader Comics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Iron Circus Comics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Lev Gleason: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Living the Line: 3 (3 graphic novels)
Mad Cave: 7 (2 graphic novels, 4 single issues, 1 trade paperback)
Marvel: 39 (6 “classic” reprint, 9 single issues, 24 trade paperbacks)
NBM: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Oni: 4 (3 graphic novels, 1 trade paperback)
Papercutz: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Penguin Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
PS Artbooks: 4 (4 “classic” reprints)
Rebellion/2000AD: 7 (6 “classic” reprints, 1 trade paperback)
Roaring Brook Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Silver Sprocket: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Titan Comics: 5 (3 graphic novels, 2 trade paperbacks)
Top Shelf: 1 (1 graphic novel)
TwoMorrows Publishing: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Uncivilized Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Vault: 6 (6 trade paperbacks)
Viz Media: 9 (9 manga volumes)
Z2: 1 (1 graphic novel)

**********

Well, this was a shitty month. I decided I’m having a pretty shitty year, and October kind of pulled it all into focus, so that’s a thing. I won’t bore you with the details, and of course I’m having a better year than many, many other people – I’m still healthy, the family is healthy, and my wife still has a job – but there have been a lot of small, shitty things going on that have made my life measurably worse, and that’s no fun. Whenever life gets a bit crappy, I eat more, so I gained half a pound in October, but in the middle of the month I had gained 2-3 pounds, and I managed to get it back down. I’m at 250.9 as of this morning, and I hope that my stress-eating is over so I can continue to do better. We shall see. My parents aren’t coming out to Arizona for Christmas, which is both bad and good, because we usually eat out more when they’re here, so maybe the holiday season won’t be too bad.

The Year of the Beard is almost over (I had planned on growing the beard for just a year, and I know exactly when I’m shaving it, but it won’t be until mid-December), and here’s the latest gif showing its weekly status (the oldest image is the darker one – I guess the lighting was bad):

I don’t really have much else to say. Usually I find some weird stuff on the internet or I have sports to talk about, but not this month. See? Shitty month. I didn’t even really find anything interesting out their in on-line world!

How is everyone doing? I hope your life is fine!

23 Comments

  1. DarkKnight

    Hickman at Marvel has really lost me lately. It’s obvious Marvel is trying to capture lightning in a bottle the way they did with House of X/Powers of X but I couldn’t be less interested. Even the Ultimate Comics relaunch couldn’t muster a passing interest. Maybe I’ll pick up the digital trades on discount somewhere down the line.

    Not sure if you touched on this Greg but what do you think of Tom Breevort taking over the X-Men line? I’ve seen people online already worried that he’s going to take a bulldozer to Krakoa and put everyone back in the mansion. I’m pretty optimistic since the X-Men has somewhat lost its way sine Hickman left.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Well, I kept joking that if I took over the X-Men, the first scene would be them sitting around the mansion reading comics about themselves in which they live in Krakoa and laughing about how ridiculous it is, so the faster Brevoort can run away from the whole mess, the better. We shall see!

  2. “you rarely come up with great ideas when you’re drunk and/or high” There’s an L. Sprague deCamp novel (the Fallible Fiend, I think) with a barbarian culture that uses “drunk councils” in war planning: get everyone so blind drug they start talking about “when the war starts, this is what I’ll do …” that they’d never suggest sober. Then when they’ve sobered up they look at the stuff they talked about to decide if any of it is, in fact doable.
    The first Hickman TPB I read (Avengers) he couldn’t go two pages without telling us that the superheroes will not be able to save everyone this time. Yeah man, this is some hard-hitting realistic shit! Even Captain America will have to make hard choices because this is gritty! Did I mention they won’t be able to save everyone because they won’t!!!! A couple more TPBs in different series (including some indie stuff) and he got on my list of writers I don’t read.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Hickman is frustrating, because his Image stuff is excellent and he obviously has some interesting, grandiose ideas, but his Marvel stuff has just been off in a lot of ways. I can’t really explain it. 🙁

  3. Ecron Muss

    [img]https://i.discogs.com/jUlyyt1i5LBeY1Uh_ULI_mUsVzVgX9OkIq_14BWgT_A/rs:fit/g:sm/q:90/h:600/w:600/czM6Ly9kaXNjb2dz/LWRhdGFiYXNlLWlt/YWdlcy9SLTE5Mzcz/MjctMTQ1OTM0NzE5/OS0xNDY5LmpwZWc.jpeg[/img]

  4. I usually skip the anthologies, but I’m tempted by a Robotman/Doom Patrol deep dive and an Arcudi/McManus joint. Hmm.

    I ordered Hellcat but it hasn’t arrived yet. I buy most of Cantwell’s stuff out of loyalty to my beloved Halt and Catch Fire. His Iron Man run was solid enough, and Patsy was the best part of that. Plus it’s got Sleepwalker, so I am very much in.

    I liked I Hate This Place vol 2 a lot. The afterword definitely implies it was cut short (like a lot of Skybound books that aren’t written by Kirkman), but I enjoyed the frantic pace and the constant piling on of new and crazy ideas. Plus the art’s great. As far as Starks books go, I preferred this to Where Monsters Lie, which has a fun premise and some good gags, but doesn’t have enough issues to really flesh out the story, so it feels slight and/or rushed, and ends abruptly– presumably setting up a sequel, but who knows?

    Definitely ordering the trade of In Hell We Fight, because I’m a Layman fan. A Layfan, you might say.

    I read Nice House on the Lake in trades. That first trade was my favorite comic I’ve read in a loooong time. Loved it, devoured it twice. Beautiful art, great twisty horror-mystery plot, good character work. Ties into our pandemic times, also has Tynion inserting himself into the narrative, Morrison-style. Really engaging. The second trade… the art gets looser/more rushed, and as you said, the story doesn’t wrap up. I signed on for a 12 issue series and I began to realize it was not going to end in a satisfying manner. Still good, and I’ll be back for any sequel they put out, but I didn’t love the non-ending.

    Since the last What I Bought, I did read Jock’s Batman: One Dark Knight. It didn’t really work for me. I love that Jock presumably got carte blanche to do a big Batman graphic novel and decided to do something akin to a Moench/Aparo two-parter from 1992. That’s my era of Batman, so I’m into it. But the premise isn’t utilized too well and the story’s too thin.

    I’m on that there Blue Sky app and have been posting about most of the comics I’ve read. My favorites over the last month have been:

    Sgt. Rock vs the Army of the Dead: Bruce Campbell wrote this, so I had to buy it! The star is the Eduardo Risso art, though. Has a Euro aesthetic merged with a Kanigher-y story.

    Cereal: Mark Russell is my favorite comics writer at the moment, and I loved this Gothic, goofy comic opera about legally distinct cereal mascots.

    Mobilis: So years ago I had an idea for a story sort of about Captain Nemo and a young girl. This starts from there but otherwise goes in a totally different direction. But Juni Ba’s cartooning is lovely to look at in the oversized format, and there’s a relevant story in there about how the previous generation dooms the next one.

    Also read the Comics for Ukraine anthology that finally came in from Zoop. There are several good stories in there. Walter Simonson has still got it– his Starslammers story goes hard as hell.

    TV-wise, I’ve very much enjoyed the episodes of Chucky season 3 we’ve gotten so far. Annika on PBS is quite good. The Welcome to Wrexham docu-series is almost making me want to watch a sports!

    1. Greg Burgas

      I’ll get the Sgt. Rock book, but only when DC releases it in softcover!!!!

      I haven’t watched the second season of Annika yet, but I will once it’s done and I can binge it.

      1. I’ve noticed an alarming trend of DC just never putting out a softcover version of some books. There doesn’t seem to be rhyme nor reason to it.

        For example, a number of those oversized Black Label books never came out in TP, like Superman Year One or the out-of-print Question book. And yet others did.

        And DC just cancelled the Batman/Catwoman and Batman: Killing Time TPs after soliciting them, with no sign of them on the horizon now. I’d think those would be shoo-ins for a softcover.

        And when a softcover does come out, the turnaround time has been extended– it takes at least a year from when the hardcover comes out. I don’t mind waiting– but I rely on pre-ordering and mail-order, so I might be out of luck if the softcover just never gets printed. Still waiting to see if Batman ’89 gets solicited as a TP.

        But I wanted Rock in hardcover anyway, for my Bruce Campbell collection.

  5. Eric van Schaik

    Comics:
    The 10th Avengers EPIC Collection (The Yesterday Quest)

    TV: –

    Concerts: HELL YEAH!! 😉

    10/6 Arena
    It’s the band of Nick Pointer (original drummer of Marillion) and Clive Nolan (keyboard player of Pendragon) as founding members. Since a year they have Damian Wilson as there singer. We both are huge fan of his voice (he was the knight in the Ayreon clip of last month). They are promoting the new album The Theory of Molucular Inheritance. It’s been recorded as a live album and it was for sale at the merch booth 3 weeks in advance of it’s release, so that was very cool and a thank you to the fans.
    Shirt: yes. The cover of the Lifian Live Album.

    10/11 Iamthemorning/Maer/Cellar Darling
    Iamthemorning (yes, that’s how it’s written) are a russian progressive rock/chamber rock duo with additional musicians on stage. Before the war they had already moved to England as not being friends with Putin. It’s not music for everyone but we like it quite a lot. We had already seen them earlier this year and had a chat, but this time that wasn’t possible. Together with the singer of Cellar Darling they have a project called Maer. Up until now they have released 3 songs and all were played. Swiss band Cellar Darling has Anne Murphy as singer and hurdy-gurdy player (also flute and keyboard) and she is a looker IMO. They incorporate heavy metal, folk and progressive influences and that makes a beautiful sound.
    Shirt: yes, to support them I bought a shirt of all 3 bands.

    10/13 Karfagen
    It’s a project of Antony Kalugin from Ukraine. He is a multi instrumentalist who makes music with a lot of different people. It’s discribed as symphonic art-rock with a hint of new-age, folk, jazz-rock and neo-prog (that’s what it says on various sites 😉 ). This was a seated concert in a small but cosy music hall. I had just heared a few songs and tickets were just € 16, but we got 2 hours of nice music. We certainly want to see them again.
    Shirt: no. I really wanted to but I couldn’t pay with card and had no cash with me.

    10/15 Ultima Ratio Fest (Harikiri For The Sky/Omnium Gatherum/Primordial/Paradise Lost)
    I went tot his festival with my youngest son who is a big fan of Gothic metalband Paradise Lost. The first 2 bands were mwoa, but we were pleasently surprised by Primordial (from Ireland). Of course Paradise Lost were great as always with a good mix of old and new. The song Faith Divides Us Death Unites Us they played this evening does really ring true with the situation in the middle east.
    Shirt: no because this being the last concert of the tour they had very little lef tand my son really wanted to have one.

    10/19 Riverside
    It’s the fourth time we saw them this year. At was just a half hour by bus so no long trip this time. Every time they have a special treat so we have enjoyed all 4 shows. Support act Le Soir (dutch) was also nice and they signed the cd’s I bought and had a picture teaken with Maartje Meessen.
    Shirt: no. I bought 1 earlier this year and they didn’t have a new 1.

    10/20 Gazpacho
    This Norwegian band played a request set. Unfortunately for me most people voted fort he usual suspect so none of my list were played. Sad? No, because they have a lot of great songs. I show a clip of 1 of mine favorite songs.

    Last tuesday (Halloween) was my 60th birthday and fort he first time we were not at home but in Madrid to celebrate. Last year at a concert we met some people from Madrid and we had a nice talk and met them later that year, and also this year, at other concerts and they asked us if we were interested in visiting Madrid. Last year due too scheduling it didn’t work out. My wife still had a week vacation after our 3,5 week trip to Brasil and they also had no other plans so we left monday and returned home wednesday. Our spanish friend was a wonderful guide and we will visit Madrid again because in 2 days there is just so much you can see. My friend Enrique took us to a meet and greet (also the possibility of signing records/cd’s) of Within Temptation. The band was very surprised that they meeted dutch fans in Madrid. This was a nice birthday bonus.

    For the first time I have my name as a fan on a cd release. AKP (Antony Kulagin Project) had a pre-order on bandcamp and if you bought the cd and mentioned your name in a personal message it would be placed in the inlay. I got the cd last Saturday and after some searching found my name at the bottom. Cool! 🙂

    I scratched my head after the latest mass shooting in the US. The last 3 years there have been more than 600 a year. It still boogles the mind how easy it is for Americans to buy guns. The guy in Lewiston had a semi-automatic. Why would you have such a weapon for “protection”? Things like that make me glad that I live in Holland.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Don’t even get me started on gun laws here. I can’t wrap my head around the stupidity.

      Cool concerts, sir. It’s always nice to see who you’ve been seeing. And Happy Birthday!

  6. Peter

    Dang, I checked out a collection of the first 6 issues of “The Nice House on the Lake” from the library, enjoyed it, and was looking forward to reading the latter half eventually, but it dampens my enthusiasm considerably if there’s not a real ending! Endings are inportant… the best writers leave things open for a sequel while providing closure to the specific story they’ve embarked on. Ah well.

    I would say “damn you!” for getting that Faust HC (I was unable to snag one as it was over-ordered and things got allocated) but instead I will comment that I hope you enjoy it and it makes the year slightly less shitty.

    1. Greg Burgas

      The Faust hardcover is pretty sweet. It has a joint interview with Quinn and Vigil from a decade ago, about when it was finishing up, all the covers, and some other neat extras. Plus, my retailer absolutely hated the comic, so listening to him rant about it was fun, too!

  7. Adrien

    It’s funny, I read on CBR what was considered the best of the year so far, and most of them have gotten middling reviews on this blog post. This isn’t a “lol, CBR has really gone down hill” type comment, just more of a comment on how tastes can differ so much between people.

    I think the reason we don’t talk about nepotism or whatever among creatives, either through their wealthy parents or successful friends who keep giving them chances, is the same reason we don’t think of science as just trial and error that eventually proved successful; it dispels the myth of the genius that makes those sort of fields intriguing. Well, one reason among many, I imagine.

    I’m more of a hard work beats talent kind of guy lately, so if Tynion was able to gradually improve into a solid writer who can both be a DC architect while doing creator owned work, more power to him. Scott Snyder isn’t my favorite writer, but I’m in the minority on that front and there are worst people to learn from while they also watch your back.

    Hellcat is a character I really want to like, but can’t find a run I like. A pseudo child star who just happened to be a superhero for fun who married the prince of hell and who has the Valkyrie as her friend should be a perfect comic character, but well.. I tried the Kate leth run, but couldn’t even finish the first trade (art was great though). Was hoping the current stuff would be better, but you’re a reviewer I trust, so I won’t jump for it.

    Don’t know if you’ve heard, but Hickman is doing ultimate spiderman. I’m going to pretend that a lot of the things that people are hating Spider-Man for lately are just Hickman’s ideas done by a different author, as I don’t know if anything he does to ultimate parker will really matter unless he does something to Miles Morales. I like Hickman, but I was lukewarm on the start to his X-Men run, and just wish he followed through on Legion at DC instead, or just start another image series and follow through with it this time

    Last note, just happy Layman is back. Chew is an underrated masterpiece and looking forward to reading the more recent stuff done by Layman and Guillory, even if they are doing their own thing.

    1. I’m glad he didn’t get Legion. They’ve suffered enough the past 30 years.
      I don’t think it’s that different than any other industry: networking and who you know are a big part of getting any job. My last three jobs before I went full-time freelance were all because I knew someone who mentioned an opening. It’s only an issue if someone can’t deliver once they get the job. I haven’t read enough Tynion to have an opinion on him.

      1. Adrien

        Yeah, you’re right about networking, and it’s true about any given industry. I think what I was getting at was more that the creative arts have that type of glamour that makes people or biographers gloss over the parts where success was owed to other people’s contribution rather than an individuals merit.

        I haven’t read much of Tynion either, just the first two trades of his batman run and the first three trades of something is killing the children. I’d say good, but not my new favourite writer.

        I think something I forgot to say is that there isn’t anything inherently underhanded about being given the chance to grow into a success, but it does help your karma if you’re the type to pay it forward for others looking to get in.

    2. Greg Burgas

      I love reading best-of-the-year lists, not because I can feel superior or even inferior, but just because, as you noted, tastes are so different. It’s fascinating to me that some people like things I hate, and I very much want to understand why they do!

      Yeah, the “solitary genius” myth is very American (I don’t know about other countries), and it’s very frustrating. I have nothing against patronage! It also doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll succeed! It’s okay to admit you had help! 🙂

      I learned on Wednesday that Hickman is doing Ultimate Spider-Man. I do not have high hopes!

      I wish nothing but the best for Layman and Guillory. They make very good comics, and they’re both excellent people, as well.

  8. jccalhoun

    Hickman seems to have big ideas and complicated rules but isn’t really interested in characters. He also seems to repeat himself. It seems so weird that he did an Avengers story about terraforming Mars and then did it again in X-Men and no one in universe seems to really mention this.
    G.O.D.S. seems to clearly be John Constantine and the Lords of Order and Lords of Chaos but with different names. No one thought “The Powers That Be” was a dumb name?

    1. Greg Burgas

      I didn’t know he did a terra-forming Mars story in the Avengers, but I knew about the one in X-Men. I can/can’t believe nobody mentioned it. On the one hand, it’s ridiculous that it wasn’t a bigger annoying thing, but on the other hand, too many people get caught up in the “awesomeness” of something and lose their critical faculties!

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